Marian Pilgrimage: The House of Virgin Mary (Meryemana), Ephesus
On top of the Bulbul mountains, almost 8kms away from the center of one of the most highly preserved civilizations of Turkey (Ephesus), lies a nondescript century-old house built of red stones with a spring of water running beside it. While on your way to the sacred site, you can’t help but notice the serene country side and the once powerful city of Ephesus with views of the Library and the Great Theater where St John had preached.
My focus this time was to visit the House reputed to be the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus had lived during the last years of Her life. While so many things have to be considered at this time and age regarding the veracity of this claim, almost everyone who had gone to this place can attest to such unexplainable peace that only the Mother could give. In one of the gospels of St John, Jesus before His death on the cross entrusted him the care of His mother.
“Here is your Mother” and from then on St John took Her. It was during that time that the need to flee from Jerusalem was of utmost importance. St John’s brother St James was beheaded and St Peter was imprisoned while St Stephen was stoned to death. These series of events was also mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles where the world was divided among them to preach and spread the Gospel. St John took Mary with him and together they came to Asia Minor and lived in the mountains close to Ephesus.
These Bible stories were in fact confirmed historically by so many glaring evidences. The presence of the tomb of St John in Ephesus and the first ever Basilica of the World dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and even the first Ecumenical Council in 431 AD for the definition of Dogma of the Divine Motherhood of Mary. Furthermore, the Villagers of Kirkindje, who were the direct descendants of the Christians of Ephesus had passed on for generations and generations the belief of the Death of the Virgin Mary, which they called Panaghia Kapulu. They have kept this tradition alive through the annual pilgrimage on the 15th of August.
It is no surprise at all that thousands of pilgrims from all over the world have visited this place. There are numerous stories of healing and miracles attributed to the water coming from the spring at the back of Mary’s house. The House was already in ruin when it was first discovered in 1891. The search was commissioned after a book was published in Germany entitled “ The Life of the Blessed Virgin”. It was written by an invalid lady and stigmatized Nun, Anna Katherina Emmerich. Invalid as she was and never had left Germany all her life, she narrated her visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary enjoying the last years of her life on the hills of Ephesus. Her visions were told with such amazing accuracy about the house built in red stones and the spring of water running beside it.
The House of the Virgin Mary was built upon the original foundation which dates back to 1st and 4th centuries. The last restoration took place in 1951. The decorations were simple and only a statue of the Blessed Virgin at the end dominated the place. There is also a small section for the Islam faith as they venerate Mary as well being their Mother and of the Prophet Jesus. As you turn right before the exit door, you’ll see images of Pope John Paul celebrating the Holy Eucharist outside the House of Virgin Mary. Not only him but also the Pope before him and even Pope Benedict XVI. One of the locals said in jest, that Vatican knows how important this place is as every Pope needs to pay his respect and has to come to Turkey for a pilgrimage.
The Virgin Mary opted to stay on this side of the world where the only thing of importance was the running water needed for everyday life. She was so happy and had enjoyed the fresh air and some of the little chores around the house. It was even far from the cosmopolitan city at that time which was Ephesus and going up on the hills was no laughing matter. She is the Queen of all Queens and a true-blooded royalty. But in this house where she had lived for the last years of her life just proved to us that we don’t really need so much in this world to be happy. Just be appreciative of the so many simple things around us which I believe; is the secret to a very fun and fulfilling life.
Getting There & What To Do:
1. Take a cab either from Kusadasi or Selcuk (or wherever you are). Drive to/from Kusadasi is approximately 27minutes. Spend at least 30 mins to an hour depending on your need. Bring some plastic bottles with you or refill an empty one with the running water at the House of Virgin Mary.
2. Write your petitions on a white cloth (see picture above) and tie it along with hundreds of petitions.
3. There is an interdenominational mass every Sunday or sometimes early in the morning. Sometimes you’ll see some priests roaming around the area.
4. Good time to visit would be early morning and before it closes in the afternoon; after 4pm.